State Library of South Australia logo SA Newspapers
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Pictorial Australian
Title : Pictorial Australian Pictorial Australian
Add To My SA Memory
View a zoomable version
Source : Pictorial Australian, April 1888, p. 49
Date of creation : 1888
Format : Newspaper
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :
The Pictorial Australian newspaper was the culmination of ground-breaking work in local newspaper illustration by the three Frearson brothers - Septimus, Samuel and Robert, and was the last of the old-style illustrated newspapers published in South Australia.

The first issue of this 'new series' announced:

We have long held the opinion that an illustrated paper devoted entirely to local interest would not receive so large support from the public as one illustrating Australian scenes, life and manners generally ... (Pictorial Australian, January 1885, p. 2)

In its previous format the Pictorial Australian was titled Frearson's monthly illustrated Adelaide news. Advertisements in the last issues of the earlier title announced that the enlarged new version would consist of twenty 'thick toned paper' pages, each with a single sheet coloured supplement. Consequently the price for the Pictorial Australian was relatively expensive at one shilling. (Its pre-cursor had been only sixpence per issue.) Local artists George Leonard and Alfred Scott Broad illustrated the first issues of the Pictorial Australian. They were joined in 1887 by Edward Harral and Arthur Esam. Broad and Harral, in particular, provided many lively character sketches for the newspaper. Examples of the fine illustrations produced for the Pictorial Australian include Leonard's accompanying sketches for an article about Adelaide's 'shady side' in February 1885, pictures of Adelaide's first performance of the 'Mikado' drawn by F.A. Sleap in August 1886, La Crosse players in the South Parklands by Broad in August 1885, and Glenelg Easter holiday sketches by Harral in April 1887.

The year 1887 saw several innovations - not only in the Pictorial Australian but in many Adelaide newspapers. In March 1887 the new 'half-tone' process was first used by local newspaper publishers, with images appearing in the Observer and the Pictorial Australian. This was a method where differing sized dots were used to reproduce photographs in newsprint. Portraits of individuals were the most successful and the Observer began printing images of prominent South Australian men and women using this process. However, the Pictorial Australian images were of a better quality than most. The combined May/June 1887 issue which commemorated Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee featured a photograph of the queen on the front page. It also included two street scenes of Adelaide described as 'sun pictures printed without the aid of human hands.' These were almost certainly the first photographs of outside scenes to be printed in an Adelaide newspaper. Although grainy and faint, North Terrace is clearly recognisable. The newspaper accurately predicted that this was, 'the advent of a new style of printing, which is destined at no distant date, to almost supersede wood engraving' (Pictorial Australian, May/June 1887, p. 86). In June 1889 a further development was a pre-cursor to newspaper comic strips, with the two frame, amateur work of Clifford Wall which appeared on the back page of the newspaper. (This pre-dates by five years the New YorkWorld's 'Yellow Kid' - thought to be the world's first newspaper comic strip.) Wall did not place actual speech within the pictures.

By 1893 almost the entire pictorial content of the Pictorial Australian was photographic. The photographs were of local schools (notably the newly opened Way College, the School of Mines and the Industrial School for the Blind), as well as sporting teams, theatrical productions, the village settlements and, increasingly, victims of macabre murders from around Australia. The 'Windsor and Rainhill tragedies' in 1892 were given many pages of coverage in the newspaper. This new, more sensational style of reporting had begun in about 1889 with sketches and reports of the Anderson divorce case.

The text content of the Pictorial Australian included a children's column from 1886 and a 'ladies' column' from 1887. Again, this reflected broader newspaper movements of the time and examples of both can be seen in other South Australian newspapers of the same period. It also reflects a broadening newsaper readership. 'Atha' (Frank Westbury) contributed serials to the Frearson newspapers for some years, and began writing children's serials for the newspaper from June 1885, beginning with his story, 'Australian elves'. Throughout 1886 the newspaper produced a small eight page literary supplement in each monthly issue, mostly containing stories by Atha. Other local literary contributors included M.C. Finey in 1888, 'Sirius' with stories of the 1852 gold rush in 1891, and Alice B. Adcock with her, 'A death and the sequel: a South Australian story' in 1894. Alice Adcock was probably the wife of Thomas Adcock the photographer whose studio was housed in Frearson's Buildings in King William Street. (Adcock possibly was responsible for photographic work for the newspaper.)

In February 1891 the newspaper announced that Mr R.S. Frearson was touring Western Australia. In 1894 he was again travelling in the West, and in 1896 a Western Australian newspaper, the Norseman, was founded by Septimus Frearson. Throughout the 1890s the Pictorial Australian contained many articles relating to Western Australia, and strongly promoted the newly opened farming districts there with photographs and advertisements. The Pictorial Australian ceased at the end of 1895, and Septimus Frearson and family followed Robert Frearson to that colony. Septimus founded the Norseman newspaper there in 1896. This saw the end of a lively and innovative Adelaide newspaper.

Related names :

Adcock, Alice B.

Adcock, Thomas

Anderson, George, d. 1894

Anderson, Jessie Maud


Broad, Alfred Scott

Esam, A.

Finey, M.C.

Frearson, Robert

Frearson, Samuel, 1845-1887

Frearson, Septimus

Harral, Edward

Leonard, George


Sleap, F.S.

Wall, Clifford

Adelaide observer (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Frearson's monthly illustrated Adelaide news (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Industrial School for the Blind (North Adelaide, S. Aust.)

North Terrace (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

South Australian School of Mines and Industries

Way College (Unley, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1888
Place : Adelaide, S. Aust.



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on